The contribution of businesses in developing community ventures with social and environmental benefits is important for the resurgence of the Barbadian society and economy.
Minister of Industry, International Business, Commerce and Small Business Development, Donville Inniss, stressed this recently, as he addressed the Grand Re-opening ceremony of the Massy Stores Supermarket Sunset Crest.
Noting that this was significant as the island made a paradigm shift to becoming a more resilient economy and society, he acknowledged the excellent corporate responsibility of the Massy brand in supporting the Holetown Festival for over 20 years, and in refurbishing the Holetown Monument, but called for more.
Minister Inniss appealed to the Massy Group to give thought “to the fact that community life goes well beyond traditional corporate responsibility”. He urged them to take Barbadian entrepreneurs throughout the Caribbean, as they build out their enterprise.
He also suggested that as a leading brand in the retail trade, they should consider the concept of “community venturing”, giving greater focus to the business case for shared value.
He said: “While national retailers can deliver impact at scale, research has shown that a store-by-store approach is imperative to build trust and loyalty from local customers. Community ventures will be effective when they are developed through partnerships with local charities, voluntary groups and public sector agencies.
“Now this, of course, would mean greater public/private collaboration of sharing data between Massy as a corporate brand and public authorities; offering new innovative services in store for entrepreneurs and citizens especially the more vulnerable in our society, bringing a range of public service interactions into the store, or better utilising physical space, such as car parks for commercial and community use.…”
The Minister also stressed that as an anchoring institution, reliant on local people for business and workforce, the public needed large retailers, like Massy, to show leadership in the locality, and serve, for example, as a hub for volunteer recruitment or services for startups and small businesses.
Adding there was also potential for retailers to co-ordinate with public agencies, he said if they were committed to making a difference on issues of public concern, such as obesity, they could use sophisticated data from local health authorities on the scale and nature of these challenges.
“Retailers are also crucial to encouraging the public towards sustainable consumption choices, and new retail technology platforms provide powerful opportunities to tell customers about the impact of their purchases. While the bottom dollar will be your focus, as expected, your sense of corporate responsibility must signal a willingness to improve the general quality of life of our citizenry,” Mr. Inniss surmised.